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What would you do if...

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
A topic for a winter discussion by all armchair peregrinos.

What would you do if you were staffing the Pilgrims' Office and a peregrino approaches your desk to ask for a Compostela. They are clean and freshly turned out but they are very upset. They explain that they arrived in Santiago the previous evening having walked from Pamplona but this morning when they looked for their Credencial it was nowhere to be found. They have searched everywhere and they suspect that they left it on the Camino because they lost other things as well. Tearfully they ask, " Can I still get a Compostela, please?"
 

Sansthing

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
French Camino (2009), French Camino (2011), Via de la Plata (2012), Camino Inglês (2014),
A difficult one, but some tactful questions about where they have stayed, or a look at their photos should soon establish whether they are the genuine article, I think.
Sandra :arrow:
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
I think that Sandra may have a very good solution to this problem. I think that it would be somewhat easy to ask a few questions that would establish the validity of the Pilgrim"s claim.
However, I would advise anyone in that situation to show up wearing his/her worse pilgirm walking outfit rather than "clean and freshly turned out " :wink: .

I assume from Johnnie"s post that this is some part of a true story.
 

isabelle304

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPP-Santiago) (Oct-Nov 08)
Santiago to Finisterre (Nov 08)
Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres (Sevilla-Santiago via Ourense) (Oct-Nov 09)
Camino Primitivo (Oviedo-Santiago) (Sep-Oct 14)
I'd ask to see those little stamped receipts they give you in all the Xunta de Galicia albergues, or other accommodation receipts if albergues were not used.
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
The value of the Compostela is only for those who have walked. To obtain the Compostela without having earned it is meaningless. Is there any harm in giving a Compostela to someone you think is attempting to deceive you? No, I don't believe there is any harm at all.

The Camino is first and foremost a spiritual Way. It matters not that many walk it without any spiritual conviction or intent. Some drink deeply at this well and others never even know the well existed. For those who drink, the Compostela offers a conclusion to a journey that will hopefully bear fruit for years to come.

Ask brief questions, but do not make it a trial. Should this person "win" the Compostela it will turn into a canker to their soul. Very soon it will be nothing but a piece of paper that is cast aside. It may even help this individual realize what (s)he has done and cause a change of heart.

I tend to shun the legalistic approach to things in the hopes that all may find the Path.
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Unfortunately it has to be no. Anything else creates a precedent. When you are dealing with hundreds of people a day things have to be very black and white I am sorry to say or else the whole system breaks down.

"We can still give you this lovely certificate but not the compostela."
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Hmmmm interesting. I would suspect it is a made-up story from the 'pilgrim', though maybe I am prejudiced/jealous as they are so nicely dressed!
I don't know what the 'rules' are, Maybe the rules say a straight-out 'no'. But unless they could produce some other evidence eg photos from at least the last 100km of walking, I would smile and say 'tough cheese dude'. :shock: (No, I wouldn't say that- but I wouldn't give them a Compostela either!)
Margaret
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
I think the requirements for one to receive a compostela are pretty minimal and easy to comply with. Without those requirements, a kiosk could be set up signed "Get your compostela here" and everyone could get one. On the other hand (the question posed by Michael)- who is hurt when a compostela is given to someone who has cheated to get it? And is it worth a lengthy interrogation?

I don't have answers, only opinions and more questions.

lynne
 

andy.d

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Levante 2009
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2011
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2014
Pilgrims Way Winchester - Canterbury
Camino Ingles (Ferrol) 2015
Cistercian Way (Wales) 2016
I've just come home from the fantastic - although gruelling - experience of giving a talk about the Camino in British Sign Language, so forgive me if my brain is giving up.

Getting the Compostella was important, but walking the Camino was more so. In retrospect, God knows whether I walked it or not, although I would have thought differently if my credencial was not there when I opened my rucksack in the Pilgrim's Office on the 25th October. Now it is the credencial which is the most important thing because the sellos are such important memories.

On a practical level, I'd assume that the Pilgrim's Office had thought of this before and had a policy. If not, I'd hand over to whoever was in charge.

thanks for this Johnnie - really interesting - a two pipe problem,

Andy
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Hmmm... as a bureaucrat I am aware that many people do not order their lives for administrative convenience and it is quite possible that they may have lost, thrown out or not kept documentation to support their claim. I would suggest that they sit at a table and write out a request for an exception to the rule, listing the places and dates they stayed, and formally declaring the truth of it--- in the Canadian bureaucracy, for many (not all!!) procedural things we will accept a declaration "on my honour" as proof. If a (properly documented) pilgrim vouches for them as well, that would likely help.

Discussing this with one of my colleagues, she would have said no on the basis of the neatness of clothing, but would make an exception if the applicant broke down in tears. :!:
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
OK Johnnie, what did you do? Was it a quick "no chance, bub", or did you pull out the thumb screw and determine the truth of the matter. They seemed to have worked well with my children, but it does leave marks (causes dreadful questions from school marms). Of course, the cat-o-nine-tails is effective, but they begin to blubber too quickly and one never knows if they are speaking truth or just what they think you want to hear. Of course, there is always send them to talk with the Bishop in a room with visions of hell painted all about. That can work, but they have to have a degree of faith and that is not always assured. Then there are the trick questions, "Where did you stay in Sarria? How did you like Valentino and his funny card tricks..." If he says he that Valentino was great, then you can slap in leg irons and put him out front for all pilgrims to ridicule for his dishonesty. :D Enough with the poor humor.

Then again, you could ask how would I like to be treated given similar circumstances. Of course, I hate asking that question because when I do it is usually associated with me being guilty for thinking bad thoughts. Thanks be to the good Lord that I have not yet worked in the pilgrims office and been posed with such a predicament.

Speak up, good man. What did ye do?
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Ah. It isn't a question of what I did because I didn't deal with this situation and it is true that the opinions of colleagues in the office would cover all of the views expressed here. What happens with pilgrims who have difficulties or complex issues is that they are asked to see one of the two supervisors in the office - usually Eduardo on the morning shift and Mari on the afternoon shift. Some of these situations can take up a lot of time and it is important not to hold up the queue particulary since in the height of the season pilgrims can be waiting for along time.

In this situation that first thing they did was make sure the pilgrim was ok and hadn't lost any other important documents. Then they simply talked to the pilgrim. All of us know the kinds of conversations we have with each other about our journeys. For people who see thousands of pilgrims in a year they know who sounds genuine and who doesn't. They talked through the journey from Sarria, where the pilgrim slept, where they had collected sellos. All in the context of a conversation, certainly not an interrogation. And of course they spoke about the pilgrims' motives for making the pilgrimage.

In this situation it boiled down to whether or not they believed the pilgrim. They did and the compostela was issued.

They tend to hold the view that if someone gets a Compostela who didn't really qualify then the only loser is that person - what would be the point in having it?
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
I have no doubt in my mind that the solution that Johnnie describes is the best.
It makes no sense to me to deny someone a Compostela because the credential was lost. The "conversation" is really all that is needed to correct the situation.
Think about the many ways in which your passport could turn up missing...falling out of pack/pocket, left in bar, etc. I know we should all take very good care of it, but S..t really does happen and to deny a Compostela after walking from SJPP seems a harsh penalty.
Just my opinion, of course. :?
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
I am glad to discover the supervisors in the Pilgrim Office are more compassionate than I am :shock:
Margaret
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
Give to them! It is not like it is a passport, college diploma or licence to practice medicine. They could have mine if it is that important. I'd still know I've done the journeys.
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
I was very gratified by the way Johnnie explained what happened. To me it is an example of Christian living and understanding. There are so many times when we fail on another, but here is an example where a difference was made.

The Compostela is reserved for those who complete a pilgrimage for a spiritual purpose. I don't think anyone thinks that should be placed out in the public for all to receive at their leisure or desire. However, to become legalistic in who "earns" a Compostela and who does not venture where even angels fear to tread.

Please thank the office for being understanding and focusing at that which if greater importance, the heart of the innocent at a time of need. God bless each of you and keep you close to the Spirit that guides when we seek Him!
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Yes. The reality is I have never seen anyone being refused a Compostela for not having 2 sellos for the last 100 kms. However pilgrims with only one per day sellos will be asked about where they stayed etc and will be advised that if they walk again they should collect 2 sellos per day.

More dilemmas from the Pilgrims' Office to discuss next week?
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Well, it did happen to us! Somehow Adriaan thought that he had put the credentials back in this pouch, but must have missed the opening and they, unbeknown to us slipped out. We were 17 days into our walk, in Boadilla and we had been walking around the village. Back in the Albergue, one of our regular "group" said to Adriaan, "have you lost something"? He replied no! He then produced our credentials, which by then were wet and even had a muddy footprint on one of them! You can't immagine how thankful we were. We most probably would not have discovered the loss until the following night. We would have had to get new credentials, and "start" from that place. Personally though, I think that I would have been desperate if, arriving at the Pilgrim's Office, I couldn't find my credential! I would most certainly have insisted that they did a "check-up" on me and would have provided them with a list of Albergues where I had stayed, plus other proof, if possible. Anne
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
Blisters and calluses don't lie...or roots showing either! But perhaps I'd better not bring up the subject of hair as its being covered in another thread.
Nell
 

johnBCCanada

Active Member
Funny though I ahve been thinking of the compostela. I hope to walk one of the Caminos this Fall and it will be my second Camino. I have a Compostela from 2008. I get the impression that the Pilgrim's Office may be somewhat of a zoo this year and I have been wondering what I will do if I arrive in Santiago and find a long long line up for the Compostela.

I have one already and do I really need a second? I suspect I will keep on walking and simply enjoy having arrived. I'm curious. What do people do with multile Compostela?

John
 

Janeh

Active Member
A fellow pilgrim I met on my camino lost her credential and compostella on the plane coming home. She knows she did the full trip in her heart - she didn't need to prove to anyone with a piece of paper. I am doing a second camino this year and because of the anticipated crowds at the pilgrim office, I plan to just walk on by and head out towards Finisterre. Its only a piece of paper, so if someone wants one through dishonest means, let them have it. It's their karma, they will have to deal with it some other time. At the end of the day, the only person they are cheating is themselves. Like all things in life - if we cheat, we cheat ourselves the most. I always make way for cheaters, and feel sorry for them. How low their self esteem must be. Poor things.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Janeh, your friend can write to the pilgrims office for another Compostela.
email them at:
peregrinos@archicompostela.org

Give her name, address, ID or Passport number, the date she finished, the date she started and what route she walked.
 
One way I've found to figure out if someone is lying is to keep asking questions to see if they change their story.

Now this person shows up in clean clothes & says they lost their credential. Well, at the start it appears they might be fibbing, because we all know how our clothes are "supposed" to look at the end of a camino. However, perhaps this person mailed some clothes to themselves to Ivar's shop....hence the clean clothes, & perhaps in cleaning up the box & repacking, the credential somehow got tossed or misplaced. I know that's what I'd think first, since people regularly mail stuff to themselves in Santiago. Then sitting down & talking to them about what they saw & what place they liked most along the way, maybe looking at their memory card in their camera (should they have one).

Glad to hear this was done in a non-confrontational way & that the person got their Compostela. :D

Kelly
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
The camera reference brings up an thought. Maybe it would be a good idea to take a decent close up picture of you passport every couple of days. You would have "proof" and if you did lose it you would have the pictures of the sellos to treasure.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
A Camino does not obliterate human emotion, so it would be natural to be disappointed at losing a credencial at the end of the walk. However, a Camino can help build a sense of proportion, so that the loss of the credential is kept in perspective, say compared to the earthquake in Haiti. As several Members have mentioned, the Compostela is just a piece of paper. It would be worth the effort to ask for an exception at the Pilgrim Office. I would not be worth the effort to become angry if the plea was rejected. I could be wrong.
 

Nandy61

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2010 CF StJPP to Santiago
2014 CF Leon to Santiago
2015 Primitivo
In response to the 2sellos/day for the last 100K, what on earth are they going to do this year along that last stretch of the CF?! Won't there be multitudes of pilgrims looking for their extra sello? Does it mean that every little little bar or shop will have to have sellos on hand?
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Another moral dilemma. I like these.
Possibility 1/ Ask to check their boots. Mine were totally lopsided by the time I arrived in S de C from Pamplona.
2/ Give it to them anyway. If they have truly walked and lost, they deserve it. If they have not, it means nothing anyway...and they know it.
Tracy Saunders
http://www.pilgrimagetoheresy.blogspot.com
 

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